April 3, 2024



Food manufacturer has to work hard to bring products to market that will be eagerly purchased. One way to add variety to basic products can be to change the color. Thanks to natural pigments extracted from plants, food products such as jellies, chocolates and toppings can be colored at will. Natural pigments found in nature are carotenoids, anthocyanins, beta-cyanins and flavonoids. Using them in appropriate amounts does not change the taste of the product, but significantly improves its attractiveness. Interest in natural foods is growing, so the use of plant-based ingredients is being promoted as much as possible and positively received by consumers.



The perception of color by humans, is closely related to the structure of compounds present in plants. When a molecule absorbs visible light, it reflects or transmits light of a different wavelength the result is visible color. Below are the structural formulas of β-carotene and lycopene, which have a conjugated π-bond system (chromophores).


One of the most well-known red, yellow and orange pigments are carotenoids. They are hydrophobic compounds that are found in the membranes of mitochondria, chloroplasts, and the endoplasmic reticulum. Extraction with organic solvents allows them to be extracted from plants and used in the food industry.

Carotenoids are compounds commonly found in such vegetables and fruits as carrots, peppers, as well as watermelon and oranges. Obtaining red carotenoids is closely related to the concentration of lycopene, in dilute solution it is orange, while in concentrated solution is bright red. It is an approved food colorant with the designation E160d. β-carotene, β-cryptoxanthin and lutein are present in red peppers and watermelon, in addition to capsorubin and capsanthin (ketocarotenoids). These compounds are present in smaller amounts, but also have their uses in the food color industry. However, due to their low temperature stability, they undergo degradation and non-enzymatic browning reactions over time.

Carotenoids are used in food to color yogurt, ice cream, bread, flavored water, and sweets.


Another important and large group of pigments found in plants are anthocyanins. Anthocyanins belong to the group of polyphenols. They are responsible for varying pigmentation (red, purple and blue) in the flowers and fruits of many plants. Strawberries, raspberries, blackberries, elderberries, grapes, cherries, currants, red onions, red cabbage have a high content of anthocyanins.

The main feature of anthocyanins is that their color depends on pH. In a water solution with an acidic pH, they are colored red, while as the pH increases, they turn blue. Factors such as light, oxygen, metal ions and enzymes also affect the color change. In the food industry, there is a high demand for water-soluble natural red pigments due to legal restrictions imposed on some synthetic red pigments. It is because of this situation that natural anthocyanin extracts, referred to in the European Union as additive E163, have become the most widely studied natural food colors.

Anthocyanins are used to color desserts, beverages, sweets, fruit and vegetable products, ice cream, yogurt. Having antibacterial, antiviral and antifungal effects, they protect food products from spoilage.

Using natural dyes is a good way to add variety to food. Interesting colors can be obtained after extracting compounds such as carotenoids and anthocyanins from plants.

Our company produces freeze-dried, air-dried, spray-dried powders of various fruits and vegetables that can serve as natural colorants and adding them in the right proportions will not change the taste. As an example, there are icings that changed colors when powders were added.

Different fractions of our products give chocolates a natural feel, such as smooth texture or with visible powder particles. This makes it possible to vary the appearance of chocolate or icings as desired.